Mortarion's Grey Guard Introduction

‘I’m sitting; rather uncomfortably it must be said, in the Prancing Pony of Bree. It’s quite possibly the busiest Inn I’ve ever been to, with people of various descents popping in and out, chatting about this and that, and generally putting me in even more of a foul mood than I'm already in.

I sigh deeply.

I’ve been staring at this half-drunk pint of ale for well over twenty minutes now, probably my last for a while considering I have no money; again. The thing is, I’m sure I had a job I’m meant to be completing for someone but I can’t recall what it is. I’m too busy being miserable, lamenting the fact that my last foray into some ruins north of here resulted in nothing but cost and hardship. I’ve not found a scrap of worthwhile lore or any old trinkets for ages, let alone the ones I’m actually after. I’ve not found anything pertaining to the House for months. The old Innkeeper will most likely chuck me out soon, he’s not fond of non-paying customers and this will be yet another Inn I’m potentially barred from.

I sigh again and stare further into the dark foamy ale.

I look up and see there’s a couple of what look like Dwarfs asking someone something and they’re pointing them in my direction. Slightly alarmed, I steady myself and strain to focus my drunken vision…I think I recognise these people. I suddenly realise that indeed they’re Dwarfs and more than that, they’re the clients of that job I forgot about. Oh gods! I remember now, their names are Grumbul Greybeard and Hanrik Stoutbeard, a couple of travellers who asked me to find the hiding place of a particularly nasty highwayman. It seems he did away with something belonging to one of their friends in the Grey Guard or something like that, either way, what really matters at this point is they’re coming towards me and I’ve got to think on my feet. I know roughly where the scoundrel keeps his quarters.

“Mister Eisenhorn, I trust you’re well?” The Dwarf named Grumbul says to me. “Aye, good day Master Greybeard” I reply, also giving a nod to Hanrik, who nods back in return saying “Good day man, drunk again I see?” Ah, I recall it all well. They came to me a while back asking for my services in locating the hideout of one Edward Cobbs, a notorious and locally despised brigand who keeps his hideout in the ruins northwest of here. I had mentioned to them, while severely drunk I might add, that I could locate this scoundrel, when I overheard them discussing him one evening. It was an honest gesture, but too many nights in here drinking and being miserable have slipped it entirely from my mind.

I’m starting to sober up very quickly.

“So friend, have you been to Cobbs’s camp? Have you seen what we’re up against?” Grumbul asks of me. I think for a second and say; “Indeed, I’ve been to his hideout and there’s not much of a mustering there, easy pickings for warriors such as thee!” Which is not all lies, as I have seen his band of stringy men and they’re no match for these two sat before me. We exchange a little more banter, I finish my drink, and we leave for the ruins. I just hope I can remember where it is!’

‘We’ve arrived at the ruins and snuck our way in, killing several lightly armed guards posted at the entrance, and we’ve Edward Cobbs in our sights. By the looks of it he’s poring over some recently acquired loot. He’s a pathetic looking character, dirty clothes, badly forged and cheap-looking weaponry, it really is an injustice someone like him can make a living while I’m currently stuck penniless. Bah! Retribution is coming for him tonight, when he stole from the Grey Guard he had sealed his doom. Grumbul and Hanrik have bade me farewell and said I could leave this place since I have fulfilled my contract, I feel a bit guilty to have bought them here so ill prepared, but by the looks of it, this fight will be an easy win for them.

They run in for the attack, taking the camp completely at unawares. It's such a sight; two heavily armoured Dwarfs are shifting to and fro, hacking this way and that with their axes and all I can see are bandits falling left right and centre. It's an awesome display of fighting prowess. I’m enjoying the spectacle from a safe distance, in the upper reaches of the ruins overlooking the action, when I notice out the corner of my eye… trouble!

Some archers, at a quick nod from Cobbs, have taken up positions along the western flank of the ruins and are about to fire upon my new found friends. Against my better, and cowardly, judgement I feel I must help them. I think back to when I was rescued from the mines of the Angmirrim those many moons ago, by the man who saved me, raised me and taught me everything I know. His words still echo in my mind and will remain with me always. He'd said “All free people must come together, for only together will we truly stay free”. With his words in my head I begin my advance.

Stealthily and with great concentration, I sneak my way over to the first archer, who is completely taken by surprise. I jump out at him from the shadows drawing a superbly crafted knife, which glints and shines in the sun briefly, before it crosses his neck and ends his life. His body slumps down at my feet. Before the next man has time to react I run and leap over the rubble he's hiding in, bringing a second dagger down into his shoulder, and the other down into his skull. The satisfying crack it makes brings a smile to my face… then I realise how fast my heart is beating. I must slow down, take a deep breath and concentrate, there’s only one left.

Just as I'm thinking this to myself he has come bounding over, bow dropped and sword drawn, and is launching himself at me in a full blown attack. I feint and evade to the left, my face narrowly missing his blade, too narrowly it seems as I notice blood. My blood. There's no time to worry though as every split second counts! I swipe a knife up through his extended lunge and slice into his elbow, making the man wail in agony, I let go of my weapon and leave it sticking out of his arm. He's angrily turning now to take another swipe at me, no time to delay. His anger has made him sloppy. I plunge straight ahead and into him ramming my other dagger into his eye socket. He stops in his tracks and falls backwards dead.'

'We're back in Bree now; Grumbul, Hanrik and myself. The two Dwarfs are carrying a large chest, which contains the item taken from them, now safely back in their hands. I'm slumped against the back wall of the Prancing Pony, admiring the huge gash in my face, reflected in Grumbul's armour. Its a real beauty.

“So what were you after in there?” I ask Grumbul. At which point he opens the chest to show me and I am expecting gold, jewels, some priceless heirloom. It is full of bags containing nothing but seeds. “They're just seeds!?” I exclaim like an idiot.
“Aye lad, we were taking them to the people of Archet, to help them get back on their feet when we were robbed” He replies. “Still got them back now eh!”

For a while I'm speechless, a rare thing to be savoured, and Grumbul explains to me the purpose and background of the Grey Guard. I must admit I am humbled. Again I think back to Him, whom I owe my life to, and his words spoken to me; his selfless act that saved me, his kindness, his freedom. These people embody everything I admire and wish to be and they've pledged their time to helping others, looking out for their fellow man, and spreading hope wherever they can lend aid. The next few words exchanged would change the course of my life forever.

“Thanks fer helping us back there lad,” Hanrik says to me, “you could've left, but those sneaky archers would've probably killed us. You've proven yourself a good man and, well, we need good men. Will you join us?” I can only simply nod in shocked agreement. “Great, let's get in the drinks then!” is all he replies.'

'It is now the morning after I joined the Grey Guard and pledged myself officially to values I have always held dear. It is also now the morning after trying to keep up drinking with Hanrik Stoutbeard, which I have learned to be harder than scaling the misty mountains! Suffice to say, I'm feeling rather worse for wear and the pain in my wounded face is throbbing along with my head. As I wake I lean over to the pile of ancient documents and archaic relics that Grumbul has given me. After learning both my profession and my personal interests he thought, correctly, that I would love to look through them. They're priceless and there're some important and unique finds in this stash; I can't help but wonder how many brigands they must've fought to win back these prized tomes of lost history. One particular piece catches my eye, it's a parchment, bound tightly in red and gold string, with a symbol of a dagger pressed into the wax. It's been previously opened and damaged slightly in what looks like filthy water. Anxiously I open it up and inspect it, and what I find is something I have been searching for months to procure, with no avail, now fallen into my lap.

It simply reads, in old faded writing, “The Guard Protects The Hilt. The Blade Answers To The Guard. Bound In Blood We Trust...” and then is illegible.
I lift my eyes and smile.'

RSS icon
Facebook icon